Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Teaching Courtesy

Monika Pis, PhD, CPNP

Toddlers provide a plethora of embarrassing moments for parents. It is not uncommon for them to say a bad word or announce that they've farted in front of your friends, or throw a temper tantrum in the middle of the grocery store.

Harvey Karp, M.D., author of The Happiest Toddler on the Block suggested that it is the parents’ job to make their toddlers more civilized. Babies start to learn manners from the first day of their lives. Since the learning process is long and gradual, they typically start to exhibit courtesy by the age of 5 years.

The most important thing in teaching your child manners is to be a good role model. Your child listens to everything you say--and I mean everything. Even as early as 12 months of age, children become extremely observant and start to understand the context of what you say. So make sure to frequently use words such as “thank you” and “please."

Daily tantrums and embarrassing behaviors present a challenging dilemma to many parents. Unruly, dangerous, or destructive behaviors must be stopped right away. You can use the following techniques to deal with embarrassing tantrums:

Distraction works extremely well for smaller children. For example, when your child persistently bothers a family pet, bring out a book and read a story together.

This technique might seem rather silly to you, but it will most likely stop your child’s whining and make her think. If she whines because she does not want to go to bed, respond in a similar voice: “I know! I know! You don’t want to! Bedtime is no fun!” Add some pouting to it, and it might be very effective!

Did your child throw a toy across the room? Take it away for the day.

The rule of thumb is that a child serves one minute of time out for each year of life. (A three year old would receive 3 minutes of time out.) This technique is very effective with toddlers who can’t stop themselves. Removing them from play or being with parents is a powerful punishment.

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